By Lance Guma Follow @lanceguma
BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s Mines Minister Obert Mpofu should be serving over 65 years in jail for cattle rustling if the country’s ruthless colonial era laws were being applied without fear or favour a former aide of his has told Nehanda Radio.
The minister is alleged to have been running a cattle rustling syndicate in the 1990’s which contributed significantly to his current wealth.
In one incident his gang was intercepted by the police while stealing cattle from Denver Farm about 10km from Bulawayo along the Nyamandlovu road.
While this was happening another team also under his syndicate was stopped in transit while carrying a coldroom door stolen from Denver Abattoir.
The police had tangible evidence, and a docket was prepared and the case never went to court with suggestions Mpofu used his political connections to suppress it.
When he was Governor of Matabeleland North, the already wealthy Mpofu allocated vast areas of land to himself, his kith and kin and is alleged to be leasing part of the Cold Storage Commission farm along the Victoria Falls road.
Mpofu has another farm near Nyamandlovu where he built a luxurious palace. Apart from this one, he has another farm along the Victoria Falls road, near the Hwange Wild Life Conservancy.
During Zanu PF’s chaotic land grab exercise Mpofu allegedly stole cattle from white farmers who were reluctant to move from their farms.
Our source said Mpofu would sell these cattle every week at the Bulawayo Cattle Auction Sales situated inside the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds.
“Last year he also rustled 10 cattle belonging to Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, Phelekezela Mphoko. Again the police docket had indisputable evidence, but the case was suppressed and never went to court,” our source said.
We also understand during the 2002-2003 famine which struck Zimbabwe, Mpofu had his trucks intercepted while smuggling maize through Deka Drum along the Zambezi River en route to Zambia.
President Robert Mugabe threatened that the mastermind of the smuggling would be brought to book; but once again nothing was done to Mpofu despite the police opening a docket that implicated him.
Since he was made Minister of Mines, there have been allegations of rampant corruption involving bribes that were paid to the minister for mining concessions and most of the bribes were from foreigners.
Our source told us Mpofu is receiving these bribes while purporting to be sharing the proceeds with President Mugabe. This we have been told is the reason why he remains ‘untouchable’ despite a mountain of evidence implicating him in corruption.
Since then Mpofu has been buying and building properties in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
Recently former South African president Thabo Mbeki briefed Mugabe about government officials who demanded bribes from potential investors. We have been told Mpofu’s name was top of that list.
Mpofu allegedly demanded US$5 million from South African investors. Again he claimed the proceeds would be shared between him and President Mugabe.
Recently it was reported that a Chinese company was allocated coal and methane gas concessions in Lupane district. The concessions had been earmarked for the Zambezi Water Project. The investor who had intensions to invest in the project was asked to pay a bribe and refused, their application was cancelled.
“I remain perplexed as to why a known thief, fraudster and corrupt person retains a public office and yet all his ill deeds are known, even by the appointer. Is he untouchable because he publicly declared himself an obedient son?” our source said.
“It is apparent that Ken Flower, a former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative played his part well in advising how people in public office should be targeted for corruption and fraud and, in certain instances of infidelity, have them threatened with prosecution in order to compromise them for their loyalty. He even wrote about it in his book,” the source said.
Mpofu’s corrupt deeds are public knowledge. Whilst Matabeleland is mired in poverty, with companies disinvesting in Bulawayo and government at pains to raise $40 million for resuscitating industry, he can brag about throwing a party at his lavish home for US$1 million.
“What government minister can afford that outside corrupt activities?” our source said.
After the attainment of independence in 1980, Mpofu was attached to the Customs Department – where he began his scandalous deeds. He was involved in a scam involving the importation of television sets (a scarce commodity in those days) which led to his arrest.
After the arrest he ran to Enos Nkala who was then Minister of Home Affairs. Nkala compromised him and told him to leave Zapu and join Zanu PF so that he avoided going to jail. Mpofu was forced to conform and became a member of Zanu PF and his first of many cases to come died a natural death.
Efforts to get comment from Minister Mpofu proved fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered. Follow @nehandaradio
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